Sunday, May 21, 2006

summerconnexion: can your faith stand the test?

 It won't be long now! Just over a week and we kick off summer connexion (that would be June 1st, 8pm).  This summer we're looking at the short little book of 1 John. Don't make the mistake of thinking 1 John is a nice little book - it's earth shaking, or at least life shaking. John's purpose: to help his readers judge the authenticity of the faith they claim will save them!  Will your faith stand up to John's test? Join us as we think through this together this summer.

Also, keep your eyes open for details about two summer groups, one for the guys, one for the ladies (there's also a the possibility of a book discussion group).  Who says summer is for being lazy? 

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

redeeming the summer

I know summer is for sun, beaches and relaxing, but maybe it can be a good opporunity to grow in your understanding of God and His Word. There are so many good resources on the web to help with this. Here are two great resources that you can utilize:

1. Monergism Audio Resources - this site has links to all kinds of audio resources, including sermons, lectures, conferences, church classes. All of them are great (at least the ones I've listened to!).

2. Covenant Seminary Worldwide - this site is compliments of Covenant Seminary in St. Loius. It is the seminary of the Presbetyrian Church of America. The seminary is offereing a wide range of courses (usually consisting of twenty or more lectures) for free, though not for credit. Download and listen till your heart is content!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

tball



This 'dad thing' is so much fun. Caleb is playing Tball and it has been a blast. It has kept us busy then we thought it would, but Caleb is great.


 





He really works hard at learning how to play. You don't realize how complicated the game is until you try to teach it. He's a fireballer with a great arm. We're still working on the hitting thing a little, but hope abounds!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Curse implies Promise

This week I've been doing a lot of reading for a class I'll be taking in August. The book I was reading last night, Christ and the Covenants, is fantastic. I'd recommend it to everyone. Last night I was reading about the curse of Genesis 3 and it brought to mind this reflection I wrote last summer. I post it again with some additional comments:

One of the things that has been brought to light and I have found so profound is that in the midst of the curse, there is hope and promise. Genesis 3:15 sounds like an awful verse on the surface, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel"(ESV). God begins a war here - he places hatred and hostility between the woman and the serpent (and Satan whom it served as a tool). Yet, this is actually a great blessing. God wouldn't let Eve, or any of his chosen people, be friendly with Satan. In the words of Ligon Duncan, "for God to put enmity between Satan and the woman is to drive a wedge between the woman and the enemy of her soul".

This passage has long been called by theologians the protoevangelium - the first (proto) good news (evangelium, from which we get the word evangelism - the proclamation of the good news). I've known this and seen it in this text, even preached it from this text before, but this week it has taken on new hues of meaning (the gem has been turned!).

Look at the verse again. There are three levels of enmity. First, it is between Satan and Eve personally, individually. Second, it is between Eve's seed (plural) and Satan's seed (plural). Third, this hostility between progeny will culminate in one specific Seed of Eve who will crush the head of Satan, being wounded in the process (Christ). "He (singular) will crush your head (singular) and you (singular again) will strike his heel (singular)." Here is announced the defeat of Satan, and this is good news!

But look at that second level of enmity - the enmity God puts between the seed of Eve and Satan's seed. Let me ask you, do all of Eve's physical descendants have this enmity towards Satan. The answer is: no. Why? Because not all of Eve's children are her seed. There is something going on here that transcends typical physical categories, but one that lays the groundwork for a thoroughly biblical doctrine - the doctrine of election.

What I'm saying is that the principle of God choosing some and not others to be his is already here in the earliest chapters of the Bible. Look at the first two children of Eve, Cain and Abel. Was Cain a physical child of Eve? Yes. Was he an heir to the promise of Genesis 3:15? No. God didn't put enmity between Cain and Satan; in fact, we are told in 1 John that Cain was a "of the evil one" (1 John 3:12), so he became a murderer. Cain was a physical descendant of Eve, but not the seed of Eve, just as Ishmael was the descendant of Abraham but not an heir, just as Esau was the descendant of Isaac but not an heir to the promises, just as there were some of Israel who were not true Jews, etc. In other words, all of Eve's seed are those in whom God puts enmity towards Satan. Satan's seed are those whom God did not put this enmity in. What reason stands behind God's choice to place this enmity in one and not another? Let me borrow a phrase used in Romans in answer to the question as to why God chose Jacob and not Esau to answer this question of why God puts enmity towards Satan in some and not others - "in order that God's purpose of election might continue" (Romans 9:11, ESV)

We can expand this and ask, "why do people reject Christ?" Listen to Jesus response to the unbelief of the Pharisees:

They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father - even God." 42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." (John 8:39-47, ESV).

Based on Jesus's words, they do not receivee him or his word because they are of their father the devil (his seed). That enmity is there, but it is not directed towards Satan - they are in league with him because he is their father. Their enmity, hatred, is directed towards Christ, the Seed of Eve. Moreover, you see the principle of a "spiritual seed" emerging again here. The Pharisees were claiming that Abraham was their father, and they are right in the physical sense. However, Jesus says that if they were truly (spiritually) the children of Abraham, they would be doing what he did (having faith). Again, if they were children of God, they would accept him because he is also of God.

They do not accept Jesus because God did not put enmity towards Satan in their heart - they are not the seed of Eve (or of Abraham, or of God). They are, instead, the seed of Satan and are hostile to God and Christ, the Seed of Eve! God would not allow his people, the seed of Eve, to fall into friendship with Satan - the great enemy of God and of their souls. Instead, he places a hostility within his people towards Satan and all his work. How great a blessing is that!

How great is God's grace and purposes. At just the time man needed grace, at just the time man needed God to deliver, God provides! Celebrate his grace, his amazing, electing grace.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Stewards of the Gospel

I am so glad to get back into the office today - I need a break from my weekend! I spent all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday building a fence with my three neighbors. 73 holes, 73 panels, and 4 gates. Thankfully the weather was about as good as you can get.

One of the few 'breaks' I took from building was to be here at ECC on Sunday morning. As you may or may not know, we are experimenting with a 'blended' worship style, and the last three weeks of this experiment have been incredible. Yesterday, not only was the worship great, we also celebrated the Lord's Supper together and Bob preached a message on stewardship (part two of a three part series).

During Bob's message, he made reference and drew some thoughts from the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-29...

Bob made the point that the master gave the servants the talents, whether it was five, two or one, and the master expected the servants to do something that would bring a return on the investment. Typically, when we look at this parable we immediately jump to applications about how we are to use our money for the kingdom (after all, a talent was a large sum of money probably equal to a year's wages). However, Bob did a phenomenal job yesterday pushing our thinking into other areas where God requires us to be good stewards. He quoted the old Anglican bishop JC Ryle on this topic. Ryle said, "Anything whereby we may glorify God is 'a talent.' Our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ's Church, our advantages as possessors of the Bible-all, all are talents."

Here is where my mind went during the sermon and where it dwelt most of the day. The Bible tells us we are stewards of God's grace, stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, and this one really gets me, we are entrusted as stewards with the gospel of Jesus Christ: Galatians 2:7-8, "...when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised..." ESV (see also 1 Cor 9:17, 1 Thess 2:4, 2 Timothy 1:14).

Let me draw out two implications. First, based on the passages I just listed, we are called to guard the deposit with which we have been entrusted. The gospel has always had many enemies and has been in constant threat of corruption from within the church and from without. We are called to stand against any corrupting tendencies with courage and tenacity. Men like RC Sproul, Michael Horton, and old timers like Martyn Lloyd Jones and J Greshan Machen did just that. Over the summer I hope to write little articles like this about some of those corrupting trends - guarding the gospel with which we have been entrusted. I'd like to ask for your help. If there is something you have been seeing, reading or hearing that worries you and you'd like to talk about it, let me know.

The second implication is one the Bob teased out a little bit yesterday. Frankly, as important as guarding the what has been entrusted to you is, it's not enough. The wicked lazy servant guarded what he was given, yet he was still called wicked and lazy and cast out. Why? He gave back the master exactly what he had been given, but no more. There was no return, no investment, no fruit. We could keep the gospel pure and safe, guard it by hiding it, but that would be a lazy and wicked thing to do. We must advance the kingdom by sharing the gospel that was entrusted to us. Nothing short of this will please our master.

Certainly we cannot advance the kingdom if we do not keep the gospel of the kingdom safe and pure, but that's not the point. The point is the advance of Christ's rule in the hearts and lives of people! To this end I am again inviting you to help. You can do this in several ways. First, by sharing the gospel with your friends and family at home over the summer. Second, by helping us know how we can better bring the gospel to the lost on IU's campus. We really desire to be an evangelistic as well as a discipling and training ministry. What ideas do you have in this regard. We'd love to hear them so that together, we can be good stewards of the amazing gospel of grace.

in Christ,
dan waugh